Category Archives: gardening

Fig Tree and Olive Tree – One Year After the Scorching.


Last year I bought a fig tree and an olive tree. As you can see, they were rather spindly! Shortly after we got them we went away for a weekend and while we were gone the sun came out and my sunroom heated up and both trees (saplings) were scorched within an inch of their life. I felt terribly guilty.  I watered them and babied them and left them for a while  to see if they would recover, but they didn’t, so I pruned both of them down to live growth.

 One year on I am pleased to say that they are dramatically different in shape, but growing well. The fig tree is still pretty spare, but the olive tree is doing well.





Reposting this from another blog – beet greens and pasta – yummy!

kitchen notes and other sundries

…beet greens, that is. So you made a roasted beet salad and now are curious about what to do with those greens. In honor of Danny at Danny’s Kitchen, and his wonderful idea for “The Great Leftover Challenge,” here’s a small post about what I did with my left over beet greens, in hopes of inspiring you to do the same (or similar).

Beet greens look similar to turnip greens, save their colored stalks and veins, and are associated with the generally healthy and good for you “greens family” (kale, chard, dandelion greens, etc). Or at least, I generally associate them in the “greens family”, which for me means versatile and more often than not tasty. Except collared greens — apologies to the collared greens lovers, I just can’t get into them.

Back to beet greens and using up those left overs. Next time you’ve got beet greens laying…

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Beet Greens Revisited – Soup Recipe


I have had some questions about beet greens, so:

To eat beet greens as a side vegetable (just like spinach), take a big bunch of beet greens (stems and all) wash them to get rid of any grit, and then steam them until tender.

Add some butter, salt and pepper and enjoy!

Beet Green Soup

For soup, you take a big bunch of beet greens (stems and all) wash them to get rid of any grit.

Cook them in some broth (chicken, vegetable, beef, etc.) with sauteed onion and garlic optional.

When the greens (and stems in particular) are tender, cool, and then puree in the liquid they were cooked in.

Stir in either cream or evaporated milk (I personally love the subtle taste that Carnation evaporated milk gives to my soups).

For a low cal version, omit the milk or cream.

Herbs or spices that can be added to the soup include nutmeg, dill or a dash of curry. (Use only one of these – not all!).

Always add salt and pepper to taste.

Beet Green Soup

Beet Green Soup

This soup came out quite red, but if you use only the leaves and not the stems, it will be a green soup.

* I highly recommend allowing the cooked greens to cool a fair bit before putting them and their liquid/broth into the blender – scalding yourself is always a danger when blending hot food!

Step 1.

Beet Greens in Sink Getting a Good Washing!

Step 2.

Beet Greens and Stems in Broth after being cooked in Pressure Cooker


Step 3.

Beet Greens Going for a Whirl!

Asparagus Peas and Aubergines


Today saw a considerable bounty from the garden! The aubergines are still a bit small but I wanted to do some roasted Mediterranean vegetables so I picked three of the largest anyway. They are supposed to be picked when they are at 80-90 grams, and these were 60 grams each. We didn’t plant zucchini (courgettes) this year, so I bought those. I regret not planting any but last year they just went crazy and most ended up turning into marrows.

Today's Bounty - Aug 26

Today's Bounty - Aug 26

I served the roasted Mediterranean vegetables with grilled wild sea bass (which had been drizzled with truffle and olive oil, splashed with freshly squeezed lemon juice and sprinkled with what every fish loves – Old Bay spice!) From our garden I picked the aubergines, fresh thyme, parsley, and Greek oregano, Italian Peperonata (sweet) peppers, and some luscious red onion. I steamed the runner beans and the asparagus peas separately. If you aren’t familiar with asparagus peas, don’t feel bad! I had never even heard of them until I saw the seeds at the garden centre! They are a delightful little delicacy. They taste like a cross between a green bean and asparagus. You eat the whole pod (there doesn’t appear to actually be any sort of “pea” inside the pod).

Asparagus Peas - August 26th

Asparagus Peas - August 26th

While they do have beautiful red flowers, they are a bit of a novelty as they really don’t produce a high yield – I would say grow them for the taste and the fun of it, with no expectation of a substantial yield, and you’ll be happy! They should be harvested when they are about an inch long. PS. The pears and grapes are also from our garden, but I didn’t roast them!

Aubergines - Aug 26th

Aubergines - Aug 26th

Beet Green Delight!


Last year I went to one of my favourite farmshops in Chapel Brampton (Northamptonshire) and loaded up on some goodies – Cornish Yarg cheese, farmhouse bread, garlic stuffed olives, free range eggs and some other bits and bobs.

When we went to pay, the clerk asked if I wanted her to cut the beet tops off for me. I declined: “Uh . . . nooooooo thanks. They’re the best part!” I had in fact specifically chosen this bunch of beets because the tops were so lovely and I could already taste them – steamed and drizzled with butter, sprinkled with salt and pepper and finished off with a splash of vinegar. “Fresh beet greens are one of my favourite summer treats!” I added. The clerk look intrigued: “You mean you can eat the tops!? I didn’t know that. Well, if you want more I have a whole bunch of them out back!” And that’s how I got a whole lot of free beet greens! According to my husband, people don’t eat beet greens over here in the UK.

Now I was intrigued. The UK is pretty big into eating local, eating healthy, eating organic. Is it possible I have been consuming something over the years that is not intended to be eaten? Surely the savvy eaters here would be eating the beet greens if they were edible. Wouldn’t they? Apparently not. And when I did a bit more reaserch I discovered that not only are beet greens an excellent source of Vitamins A, C and E, but they are actually more nutritious than the actual beets themselves!

Beet Greens

Beet Greens

I had a whack of them and steamed some, ran some through the juicer for a toxin-removing tonic, AND made soup! I just finished the last of the soup out of the freezer. Fortunately, this year, I have a lovely crop of beets in my own garden. The other day my husband said, “Those beetroot greens are looking really tasty!” Yea! Convert #1!

Garden is going gangbusters!


Well I can barely keep up with what is happening in the garden! And the bounty has only just begun! The blackberries (which literally, popped up out of nowhere!) are producing like crazy. Yesterday I picked close to two pounds worth in about 10 minutes. I also picked the last of the peaches. The blackberry bushes show no sign of letting up – there are a lot of developing fruits on the bushes, some half-ripe, and a lot of new blossoms, indicating that this bounty of delicious free fruit is going to go on for months to come!

Peaches & Blackberries

Bounty from our Garden August 5, 2011

The peaches smelled fabulous. I find it amazing that this stuff is growing in my garden and that a small tree can produce so many peaches, only the second year after it was planted!

I understand now why blackberries are so expensive in the grocery store. Between the thorns, the nettles and the bees, getting to them and picking them is NOT an easy chore!
There are a lot that I can’t reach as they are behind the greenhouse and barricaded by a mass of thorny brambles – so I can only reach the closest ones. This fall we will cut back the bushes and try to make them more accessible for next year.

Inaccessible to mere mortals

It is really quite torturous to be able to see them through the glass and not reach them!

Blackberries glistening outside the greenhouse

Summer Savoury Inspires a Feast!


Look at it grow!!!! I was out weeding the garden and caught a waft of it and it inspired me to go out and buy a big free range organic chicken. Tomorrow I will stuff that chicken with dressing made with the savoury from my garden – I have never had the thrill of using fresh summer savoury before (only have ever had access to dried, which is still pretty darn delectable!) so I am VERY excited!!! The “Sunday Roast Dinner” tomorrow will consist of roast chicken with stuffing, butternut squash, spinach, new potatoes from our garden tossed with organic butter and some fresh herbs also from our garden, beet greens (yes, from our garden!) and fresh peas and mint – both from our garden as well.

Summer Savoury

Summer Savoury


I pity people that can’t cook and live on a steady diet of take-out pizza and spaghetti. It’s okay once in a while, but a steady diet of take-out meals is just unorganised and sheer laziness. Take a cooking course if needs be and learn to prepare delicious nutritious meals!

Roast chicken dinner with summer savoury dressing.

Roast chicken dinner with summer savoury dressing.